Officials say a Russian figure skater entered in a regional meet in Burnaby has the blessing of both Canadian and Russian governing bodies.
Uliana Shiryaeva is one of the 10 skaters scheduled to compete in the senior women’s short program at the 2022 Belair Direct B.C./Yukon Section SummerSkate Super Series through Aug. 21 at the Scotia Barn.
Shiryaeva turned 15-years-old in June and is affiliated with the Army of Figure Skating SC in Moscow. Except for Cheuk Ka Kahlen Cheung of the Hong Kong Skating Union, the rest of the skaters in the division are attached to Canadian clubs.
Mike Slipchuk, high performance director for Skate Canada, said the International Skating Union ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes applies only to international competitions.
“As Uliana and her family have moved to Canada and is in the process of being released from Russia, she has been given permission to compete in this local domestic event,” Slipchuk said.
Slipchuk said she moved to B.C. earlier this year. He declined a request to interview Shiryaeva, her coach or her parents.
The ISU ban came a week after Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. The war began just four days after the close of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and eight days before the opening of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, during a period that is covered by the symbolic Olympic truce.
Ted Barton, the executive director of Skate Canada’s B.C. and Yukon region, said Shiryaeva requested a release from Russia, but it won’t be decided until the end of the year.
“This release request has been sent by Skate Canada and Russia will be reviewing it in December. During this transition period her club in Moscow has granted her permission to compete in non-qualifying events till the release is completed.”
Shiryaeva’s Instagram does not show any images of her in Canada. The most-recent photographs published July 23 show her posing beside a highway in Montenegro.
The Canadian sports law professor who concluded Russia committed state-sponsored doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics said in an interview earlier this week with a German publication that bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes are too harsh.
”The athletes did not start this conflict and are not responsible for its course,” Richard McLaren told Sportschau.
He said athletes could find their way back to international competitions via appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"If the CAS decides in favour of the athletes, the associations would be forced to let them compete again,” McLaren said.
Ukraine’s Minister of Youth and Sport Vadym Guttsait urged international sports organizations to keep the bans. In an open letter to a French sports website, FrancsJeux.com, he wrote that more than 3,000 Ukrainian athletes went to war, more than 100 have died and the Russian military destroyed 111 sports facilities.
The IOC has not disciplined the Russian or Belarusian Olympic committee or any of their officials. Several Russian cross-country skiing, figure skating, gymnastics and swimming medalists appeared with Putin at a Moscow stadium rally almost a month after the war began. The event marked the eight anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, after Sochi 2014.
In June, the ISU raised the minimum age for professional competitions from 15 to 17 by the next Olympics in Italy in 2026. Russian Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old gold medal favourite, was allowed to compete at Beijing 2022 despite a positive doping test. She finished fourth.